Val Thorens trains
The easiest way to get to the Alps by rail is to take the direct Eurostar from London to Moutiers - which is the stop for Val Thorens, and the rest of the Three Valleys. A forty-five minute transfer takes you to Val Thorens.
The Eurostar can be booked direct, or as part of a package with a tour operator.
It's also possible to travel by Eurostar then TGV, changing in Paris.
Trains to Val Thorens: direct Eurostar ski train
There is a direct Eurostar ski train from London or Ashford to Moutiers, which is quite fast and practical. (The old Snow Train, which was direct from Calais to the Alps, with sleeper carriages and a disco car, stopped running in 2009).
The Eurostar ski train takes seven to eight hours, which is a good deal longer than the journey by air, but the check-in and waiting time is less, and you arrive closer to resort than any airport. It's certainly a good option if you live in or near London (or Ashford).
Train travel produces much lower CO2 emissions than flying (see the website Snowcarbon), so it's a more environmentally friendly way to travel.
Eurostar's direct ski trains set off from St Pancras, calling at Ashford, before travelling direct to the French Alps, at around 186mph. They call at Moutiers, for Val Thorens and the other resorts of the Three Valleys (including Méribel and Courchevel), then continue to Aime-la-Plagne (for La Plagne), and Bourg St Maurice (for Les Arcs, La Rosiere, Tignes and Val d' Isere).
Timetable and prices
This winter, the trains run from 20th December 2013, until 12th April 2014 (in effect, beginning with the Christmas holidays, and taking in the first week of the school Easter holidays).
There are two trains: the night train, which leaves St Pancras on Friday evening, arriving in Moutiers early on Saturday morning; and the day train, which leaves on Saturday morning, and arrives early on Saturday evening.
On the way back, there's a day train on Saturday, and a night train that leaves on Saturday evening, and arrives back in London early on Sunday morning. The advantage of the night trains is that you can ski from Saturday to Saturday, so getting two extra days on the slopes.
Train times from London to the Alps 2013/14
|Station||Night train (Fri night)||Day train (Saturday)|
Return train times 2013/14
|Station||Day train (Saturday)||Night train (Saturday) *|
Note: these are local times. (France is an hour ahead of the UK). Check in at least 60 minutes before departure. *Does not stop at Ashford on 23rd March 2014.
Prices are from £149 return in Standard Class, and from £229 in Standard Premier (which offers more spacious and comfortable seating, and included meals).
Transfer from Moutiers
Trains to Val Thorens: other options
It's also possible to book the Eurostar ski train as part of a package with a tour operator. Holiday companies offering travel on the Eurostar ski train include Inghams, Crystal, and Thomson. These tour operators include the transfer from Moutiers.
Finally, if you're prepared to change in Paris, you can organise your own train travel from London to Moutiers, for example using Rail Europe.